I was recently off work for a well earned cycling break, which couldn’t have been better timed as the week prior I suffered four punctures due to my worn tyres. Unfortunately I couldn’t simply just replace them that week due to the timing of payday and I knew that I’d need them to hang on at least a week more once I returned to work (and it now seems they may need to hang on much longer), so I used my time off to dream up some repairs. My first attempt was to use a patch of old inner tube, on the inside of the tyre over the tear, stuck on with some good old electrical tape. I then used my inner tube tyre liners (basically an old inner tube cut circumferentially on the inner diameter so that it opens out and forms one flat belt) from the time with my knackered studded tyres (lining with a tyre, with beads removed, didn’t work out - it was too stiff - so I used two layers of inner tube instead) to provide an additional layer of rubber under the tyre.

During my nice restful week I only had to do two hours cycling. This was actually fortunate as it proved my initial repair wasn’t good enough. The tear was bigger than I realised and the rubber wasn’t strong enough to resist the pressure from the inner tube and so bubbled out. I decided to reinforce the tear with some plastic. Two thin layers of packaging from Aldi’s Cream filled Yum Yums to be precise. And yes I can eat as many of those as I please without any concern about weight gain. With a rectangular patch of rubber over the hole and then these two layers of plastic sandwiched between that and the rubber tyre liner, it seems to work a treat. In conjunction with this I’ve permanently altered my commute route to what I was doing initially whilst still on road tyres, this means I miss the sharpest patches of gravel and should hopefully mean that the tyres will last until I switch to my winter tyres (kind of hopefully soon).

This is the fourth winter for my two Smart Lunar 35s! That goes to show these are remarkably good-value lights as these have taken a lot of abuse (they get used as torches and hence dropped and broken) as well as normal use (repeatedly cycling 1-2 hours in torrential rain). Although all this use and abuse had meant mine had fogged quite badly after two years and so I couldn’t see quite as well with them anymore. I think it was last year when I finally figured out how to get them apart to clean them properly:

  1. With a kitchen knife, or similar, and working from the front of the light, place the point of the blade just down and under the side of the side cutouts of the front cover.
  2. You can then used this to lever the back edge of the front cover out and forward just enough to pop it off a little catch it sits on (yeah, yeah a picture would speak a thousand words here).
  3. Repeat on the other side so that the front cover has shifted away from the middle band by about 1mm.
  4. You can then use the knife to prise the cover off completely by putting it in the newly opened gap.
  5. With this off it’s fairly straight forward to dismantle the clear lens cover for cleaning, as well as the lens and lens holder if they are dirty as well. You may have to peel off the black rubber switch cover from the lens cover to get the lens cover off completely.
  6. Re-seal the lens cover back onto the main body with some electrical tape (wrapped all the way around so it’s over the switch cover as well.
  7. Push the front cover back on. It should just fit over the electrical tape.

The use of electrical tape rather than whatever glue/gunk was initially used may or may not be a good idea. It’s good as it means I can take it apart again to clean again easily, but bad because I’ve never been able to get a really great seal. Especially with my new commute, I get a lot of spray from my front wheel up and onto my lights and this constant spray just seems to work its way in. Yes, proper mud guards would be a good idea; however, I decided to make a splash shield for my lights instead.

With a rectangular piece of clear plastic from an old Christmas crackers box I made a small hole in each corner so I could thread some baling twine through; how anyone copes without having baling twine knocking about, I don’t know. Then, I’ve simply wrapped this over my lights from top to front to bottom, so the four corners meet at the back of the lights, tying together with the baling twine. When tied it naturally forms a nice aerodynamic wing shape, it’s open at the sides, but by tying it also pulls and slopes the sides down a touch meaning that any rain coming down is going to run off the sides or back and not get to my lights. This is the most successful repair/modification I have ever made to my bike and, as long as I now remember to wipe the splattered mud off this splash shield, means I should continue to see where I am going for the foreseeable future.

[EDIT: 2014-11-09] The plastic fantastic patch got me just over another two-hundred miles out of my tyres, which is not to be sniffed at, but then the hole in my tyre ripped further, enough to fit my thumb through, or a rather sharp stone it seems. Fortunately I managed to patch it enough to get home. Just. And then promptly switched to my winter tyres.